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Buchan House

Buchan House
Plaque no. 16
Date of plaque unveiling
2 June 1973
Speakers
Dr. Fred Armstrong and Lenore Crawford
Location
566 Dundas Street, London, Ontario

Take a tour of Buchan House on HistoryPin

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History

The area to the west of Adelaide Street was once the eastern outskirts of London and a residential location for the well-to-do.

Buchan House, formerly Oakhurst, was built in 1871 of white brick in the Italianate style for Thomas Aspden.

In 1887, Thomas Baker Escott bought the house and added the magnificent towered front. Escott established a major grocery wholesale company, with his local operation in a warehouse on York Street where he sold a large variety of foods and spices.

In 1919, the house was sold to Albert D. Jordan and became the London Institute of Musical Arts (later the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music). The attic was transformed into an assembly hall, with a platform for piano and instruments which were played at weekly recitals. Jordan was the organist and choir master at First Methodist Church and a major figure in the Musical Arts Society. In this capacity he also organized concerts. One such event in 1916 was a performance of Handel's "Messiah" by a chorus of 400 and a symphony orchestra which included Guy Lombardo. Other concerts featured such groups as the New York Symphony and the Russian Symphony Orchestra.

In 1945, Branch 279 of the Canadian Legion purchased the building. The branch had been founded in 1936 by a group of First World War veterans.

While preliminary meetings were being held it was learned that John Buchan, the first Baron Tweedsmuir, had been appointed Governor General of Canada. Buchan allowed the use of his name for the branch and became its Honorary President. His coat of arms and his sunflower crest were also adopted by the branch.

The building has since been renovated many times, and had one of the finest clubrooms in Canada. The Tweedsmuir Branch was active in aiding veterans, and contributed to many organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Appeal.  The building now houses My Sister's Place.